Ah, May. That time of year when rain showers give way to budding flowers, children are filled with excitement as the end of the school year approaches, and digital marketers are glued to their laptop screens waiting with bated breath for the annual #GoogleMarketingLive2019 keynote. Wait, what?
If you aren’t in the marketing space that last part may not seem important to you. But if you consume content or buy anything from the internet, the announcements made at this annual livestream are certainly relevant to you as well. Google uses the annual event to let advertisers and marketers know what features and products they can expect to roll out in the near future.
Whether you’re an advertiser, an agency, or an online consumer, the changes announced are going to impact the experience of browsing, buying and advertising online. I am here to break down the biggest changes that are coming and how they will impact advertisers and businesses in the (very) near future.
Numero uno: Feed-based advertising is officially a thing with the release of Discovery Ads. This past September Google released Google Discovery. It is a feed that appears on the home page of the Google app for iOS and Android and the Google.com homepage on mobile. Users can customize their feeds to include topics of interest to them. Now, Google is introducing a new way to advertise on it. Discovery ads provide a swipeable image carousel ad format. These ad variations are strikingly similar to the Facebook carousel ads that have been so effective on that network.
The difference here is Google’s reach. These ads can serve across the YouTube home feed, Gmail promotions tab, and the feed in Google Discover. 85% of online consumers take a product-related action within 24 hours. Discovery ads take advantage of that by allowing advertisers to show ads to prospects in the moments when they’re most open to finding something new. For example, a company that organizes excursions to remote parts of South America can target users who have chosen “Patagonia” as a topic of interest in their Discovery feed.
The second big feature announcement is my favorite. Commercial intent on the search network is stellar — but visual creative? Not so much. This year, Google has combined the intent of search with an interactive and visual ad format they are calling Gallery ads. This new ad format will allow advertisers to combine compelling images and copy to search network ads.
My marketing people: this is major. Think of the possibilities! Just picture how much more of your client’s message you can convey through the use of images. Again, these ad types are commonplace on Facebook, and clearly Google has taken note. Unlike Discovery ads, they sit at the top of the search results page. That means advertisers now have the ability to not only show ads to prospects at the precise moment they’re searching for keywords related to their products or services; but show those same prospects the kind of image creative that is going to result in a click. Unfortunately for my SEO counterparts, this will bring major changes to the search results page that will no doubt impact organic listings. Again.
Next up, big improvements to smart bidding. This one is for my in-the-trenches PPC players. Here’s a little 101 for the rest of my readers. Machine Learning refers to the power of computers to find patterns in data and make informed decisions based on findings. Google is implementing machine learning across its advertising tools and one of the most prominent is smart bidding. Smart bidding refers to Google Ads’ use of machine learning to optimize keyword bids for conversions or a targeted conversion value. If you’ve ever automated your bidding with Target CPA, Target ROAS, Maximize Conversions, or Enhanced CPC, you’re familiar with smart bidding. I have never been a fan of these automated bidding tools, but yesterday’s keynote included the announcement of one major improvement to the smart bidding suite: Seasonality adjustments. If your client has an upcoming sale or event that you expect to increase conversion opportunities, Google Ads will optimize your bids for that time period and then return them to normal afterwards. This creates a safety net and makes the life of a pay per click manager with multiple retail clients just a little bit easier.
Now on to video. It’s no secret that YouTube offers incredibly valuable real estate to marketers. Prospects watch billions of videos on the platform every single day. What’s not quite as well-known is the value of bumper ads—the six-second ads that play before the video starts. According to data Google collected last year, a series of three bumper ads leaves a much more memorable impression on consumers than a single 30-second ad does.
As insightful as that is, there’s a problem. Few businesses have the resources to create sleek, professional bumper ads. In the rare scenario where a business does have video content, the videos are usually much longer than the six second limit for this ad format. The process of compressing those down to six seconds, while preserving effective messaging, is difficult to say the least.
Introducing the bumper machine. Conveniently residing in the Google Ads interface, the bumper machine is a handy new tool that can turn any video shorter than 90 seconds into a collection of YouTube-ready bumper ads. It’s scheduled to roll out later this year at no additional cost to advertisers.
Last but not least, Google makes Local campaigns available for everyone. We all know that consumers do research on their smartphones before going to physical stores. Whether it is to find a location on Maps, see what businesses are “near me”, or check out reviews, the growth of this trend brings the opportunity to influence prospects’ purchase decisions before they even enter your store. Local campaigns are a semi-automated campaign type that promotes brick-and-mortar stores across Search, Display, Maps, and YouTube—to all advertisers. The process is somewhat similar to that of responsive ads. You provide locations, some ad copy, a couple of images, a budget, and a bid, Google Ads optimizes ad delivery across its properties to maximize foot traffic to your client’s stores.
There you have it! My roundup of the most compelling and exciting changes announced on day one. Make sure to check back tomorrow for my notes on day two.